If you think you’re having problems with Daylight Savings Time and winter now, don’t move to Longyearbyen, Norway.
On October 26th, 2,000 residents of Earth’s northernmost town watched the sun set. The next time they’ll see it rise? Sometime in February.
Longyearbyen is located at 78 degrees north latitude in the Arctic circle, the city experiences a phenomenon called Polar Night, in which the town remains in perpetual darkness for four months each winter. The town’s inhabitants may be accustomed to waking up in the dark, but the lack of daylight has a substantial impact on their daily life and health.
The town can tell you that they all live under very unique conditions, their struggles during the winter months highlight a common condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, also called winter depression. The symptoms of SAD are thought to be brought about by deprivation of light during the short winter days.
The tool to combat SAD from a Polar winter? Light therapy. During the winter, the number of hours we spend outside or in the sunlight are limited, even more for those people living in farther north of the equator. Many depressed people experience some level of improvement by using a bright light box every day.
In an attempt to cut through the seemingly endless night, global electronics corporation Philips has distributed their Wake-up light to around 250 volunteers in the Arctic town. The product aims to help them wake up in the morning as well as improve their general way of life.